-Christy Khurana, contributing writer
It all started at Cups; yes that coffee shop that you just can’t get enough of. It was the first International Global café of the year and that’s when we met. Arun and I never thought we’d be married that coming summer, but then again, how can you foresee the future? We had two things in common: we loved coffee and were both good friends with Bethani Thomas. They say things happen for a reason, and that night they sure did, or at least we think so. Anyways, moving on to the India part…
The following summer we knew that we wanted to get married; what better way to experience the Indian culture than to have our wedding in India? It was perfect, as His entire family was in India. I was so excited to learn more about India, and living there for two months would most definitely do the trick. The day after classes ended for the year, we were halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, India Bound! Once we stepped off the plane there was a blast of blazing heat that I learned would never go away. It didn’t matter, however, because we were finally in India—like kids in a candy store.
First, we met with his family and they performed an “Aarti,” or a welcoming ceremony, for us before entering their house. This is done out of love to seek blessings from their god and ward off any evil spirits. His parents dipped our feet into warm paraffin wax and applied a red dot called a “bindi” to our foreheads before leading us into their home to enjoy the summer together. We began to plan our wedding and travel around to see the city. It was like New York City mixed with rural Mississippi.
That might be hard to imagine, but it was real—we were right in the center of it. In between all of the motorcycles and cars was a donkey pulling a wooden cart filled with vegetables. The dusty streets were scrambling with people, cars, motorcycles, carts, and animals going every which way. It was exciting and such a sight to see for someone who had never been out of the U.S. We went to Domino’s for lunch, yes, pizza at Domino’s. The only difference is that in India most all restaurants, including Domino’s, are vegetarian. So to cut things short, we had a healthy lunch.
A few weeks later, it was time for our wedding. All the arrangements had been made and the time was set by the priest for it to begin exactly at noon. In India the priest decides the time and day of marriages because they line them up using the phases of the moon. Everything has meaning in traditional Indian marriages. During the wedding we performed many different rituals, such as: walking around a fire, exchanging flower garlands, reading vows, and being tied together. We exchanged garlands that represented our acceptance of each other as husband and wife. We then read vows and literally tied the knot that would bind us as we made our rounds. Lastly, we completed our seven rounds around the fire which officially sealed our marriage.
After our wedding and reception were complete we then made plans to travel the country. With our one month left, we decided to go on a twenty-day road trip to sightsee and explore the exotic India. First, we stopped in Rajasthan, a dry desert state, to see a historic fort and go on a desert safari aboard camels. Let me add here that camel rides are very bumpy, especially when traveling over sand dunes. To finish the trip, we attended a traditional dinner party while enjoying dancers balancing pots on their heads while still dancing to a rhythmic beat of drums and native instruments.
Our next stop was northern India to the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. These are mountainous regions where we enjoyed the cool climate for a change. First we visited the Golden Temple, a giant temple made of gold. Every day it is filled with thousands of people usually for religious purposes. Then, we headed to the Himalayan Mountains to enjoy white water rafting and hiking the trails. The water was so clean that it was safe to drink straight from the river itself. We finally reached the Taj Mahal and other historic forts, visiting seventeen cities before we finally made it home. Arun and I really enjoyed our summer in India. We made experiences that will last a lifetime and are fortunate enough to share a few of those with you!